Greedy Bart ransomware encrypts files in ZIP archives


Greedy Bart ransomware encrypts files in ZIP archives

A new ransomware threat known as Bart is experimenting with the price it charges victims and encryption strategies.

If your PC is infected by Bart you will be asked to pay three Bitcoin (BTC) or just under $2,000 to regain access to your files, which is significantly more than the usual 0.5 BTC ($300) to 1.5 BTC fee.

Also, you won’t get a decryption key, but rather a password that opens password-protected ZIP archives, where the files of Bart-infected machines have been copied.

While .zip is intended primarily for compression, it also offers encryption. However, as PC World recently pointed out, the program used to create and open the ZIP file determines whether the weak ZipCrypto encryption or the tougher-to-crack AES-256 is used.

Security firm PhishMe noted on Friday that Bart’s use of .zip files for encryption differs from most file encrypting ransomware, which traditionally use a more sophisticated asymmetric, public-private key pair for encryption.

Another distinguishing feature of Bart is that it doesn’t rely on command and control infrastructure in order to tell which PCs the malware should proceed to encrypt and provide instructions to pay the ransom.

Security firm Proofpoint also reported the emergence of Bart on Friday, and said that instead of using a command and control host, it relied on a unique browser identifier in the URL.

The Bart ransomware also won’t run if it detects the user’s system language is Russian, Ukranian, or Belorussian, according to Proofpoint.

Proofpoint also found links between the Bart ransomware and the more widely used Locky ransomware, such as a similar looking payment page, and that it like Locky it is being distributed in spam email. However, Proofpoint also found that the ransomware code itself was “largely unique” from Locky.

“Petya” ransomware encryption cracked


"Petya" ransomware encryption cracked

Utility generates unscrambling key.

Users whose data has been held to ransom by the Petya malware now have an option to decrypt the information, thanks to a new tool that generates an unscrambling key.

Petya appeared around March this year. Once executed with Windows administrator privileges, Petya rewrites the master boot record on the computer’s hard drive, crashes the operating system and on restart, scrambles the data on the disk while masquerading as the CHKDSK file consistency utility.

The Petya attackers then demand approximately A$555 in ransom, payable in BItcoin, to provide a decryption key for the locked system.

An anonymous security researcher using the Twitter handle leo_and_stone has now cracked the encryption Petya uses, the Salsa10 function created by DJ Bernstein in 2004.

Decrypting hard disks scrambled with Petya using the tool is a relatively complex operation. The tool requires data from an eight-byte nonce (random, use-once number) file and a 512-byte sector from the hard disk to be input into a website to generate the the decryption key.

This means the Petya-infected hard drive has to be removed from the victim computer, and the small amount of data needed for the decryptor read and copied with low-level system utilities.

Once that is done, the scrambled hard drive has to be reinserted into a computer to bring up the Petya ransom demand screen, at which stage the decryption key can be entered.

Tech support site Bleeping Computer, run by computer forensics specialist Lawrence Abrams, reported success with Leo Stone’s Petya decryptor, with keys being generated in just seconds.

A Windows tool to make it easier to extract the verification data and nonce was also created by researcher Fabian Wosar from security vendor Emsisoft.